In the latest issue of GQ, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is decorated "Citizen of the Year" for his crusade the systematic injustices in our country — more specifically, police brutality against black people. He keeps his silence in the cover story, opting for a photojournalistic narrative that mirrors Muhammad Ali's resilience to the Vietnam War in the 1960s, while a roundtable of peers and influencers speak up his culturally impactful movement.
"He sacrificed his dream," J. Cole asserts in the feature story. "You're talking about a guy in his athletic prime, who's lived his whole life dreaming about playing football at a level that millions of kids dream to get to. In his first big season, he takes his team to within five yards of winning a Super Bowl. But then, at some point in time, he becomes conscious about what's happening in the world. And suddenly something that he's been doing blindly for his whole life—standing for the national anthem—now feels uncomfortable. Why? Because now it feels phony!"
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay, meanwhile, sees Kaepernick's stance "as art."
"I believe that art is seeing the world that doesn't exist," she said. "Civil rights activists are artists. Athletes are artists. People who imagine something that is not there. I think some folks see his protests, his resistance, as not his work. Not intentional. Not strategic. Not as progressive action. As if this was just a moment that he got caught up in. This was work. This is work that he's doing."
Longtime activist Harry Belafonte shared similar sentiments to DurVernay. "In my 90th year of life, to see people like Colin Kaepernick having gotten the message and carrying the cause forward is the greatest reward I could ask for."
"The fact that he spoke out on police brutality against young black men — I thought it was absolutely admirable. I'm prepared to do anything it takes and whatever steps I can to support him if this insanity continues," he stated.
Tamika Mallory, who is no stranger to standing up for what's right, also chimed in on the athlete and why everyone should avoid watching football. "My position is that people should not be watching football right now, while we're in the middle of this, because we don't need to add to their ratings," she said. "We need to ensure that we're not on social media talking about the game as if Colin Kaepernick is not still up for deliberation."
To read more of Colin Kaepernick's GQ feature story, head here.